Press kit for Things No Longer There

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Things No Longer There
A Memoir of Losing Sight and Finding Vision
Susan Krieger
Terrace Books, a trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date May 2005
LC: 2004024546 HQ
248 pp.   6 x 9
ISBN 0-299-20864-8 Paper $19.95 t

Press release

News for Immediate Release: April 15, 2005
Contact: Publicity Manager
608-263-0734 /

The University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059

The Power of Memory and the Meaning of Vision

Things No Longer There:
A Memoir of Losing Sight and Finding Vision
By Susan Krieger
(Pub Date: May 5, 2005; $19.95, 0-299-20864-8 Paper)

"This book is beautifully written, with vivid, compelling images that stayed with me."—Esther Rothblum, University of Vermont

Things No Longer There is a lovingly crafted collection of personal stories about the author's struggle toward enlightenment while losing her eyesight. It is also about invisible landscapes—places of the heart that linger long after they have disappeared from the world outside. In these ten brief tales and one novella-length intimate drama, Susan Krieger takes us on a series of adventures in vision, a journey both inward and to various parts of the country. We travel with her as she goes birdwatching before sunrise in the New Mexico desert, learns to walk with a white cane, revisits an old love, returns to a summer camp of her youth, and reflects on the nature of blindness and sight.

Krieger asserts a very positive message concerning loss of sight both in the stories within the book and in her efforts to make sure the printed word is accessible. "My vision loss is a life change for me. I feel I am walking off into a new space, entering into an exciting adventure," Krieger writes.

Susan Krieger, a sociologist and writer, teaches in the Program in Feminist Studies at Stanford University. Her previous books include The Family Silver: Essays on Relationships among Women; Social Science and the Self: Personal Essays on an Art Form; and The Mirror Dance: Identity in a Women's Community.

Stories behind the Story

Things No Longer There
Stories behind the Story

Driving New Technology Forward

Since January 2005, Krieger has been working with the University of Wisconsin Press to ensure that an accessible digital version of Things No Longer There will be available for blind readers simultaneous with print publication. "There is no longer an excuse," says Krieger, "for books and articles printed on paper for the sighted not to be available in digital print form for the blind." For years, audio books on tape have been produced by organizations such as Recordings for the Blind and Dyslexic and the National Library Service. These, according to Krieger, rely on an agency to preselect which books warrant recording, and there is a lapse of time before the recordings become available. Given today's computer technologies, digital versions of printed materials require no intermediary organization; a digital or electronic version of a book, integrated with the printer files, is available at the composition stage. Because of this, digital files can be made available immediately, without prejudice of selection, and through screen readers (a computer synthesized voice program used by the blind) they can make a blind person's access to reading materials equal to that of a sighted person. "I need only to obtain the files, either on disk or as an attachment, then I sit at my computer, with my screen-reading software, and I can promptly read the text," says Krieger. "I can be as excited about a new book as anyone else!"

Drawing on her own personal experiences, Krieger tested out all aspects of the printed book herself to make sure they would read aloud properly and worked with the Press production staff to make the digital version of the book not only available for blind readers but also user friendly.

The Blind Reading the Blind

Not that Krieger overlooks the importance of audio recordings. A long time reader of books for the blind who currently records materials for students at Stanford will be taping Things No Longer There on publication—interestingly, the reader herself has recently become blind.

"I wanted the book to be immediately available for my blind friends and colleagues whose preferred format is the human voice or who may not be agile with computers," Krieger explains. "So last spring when I was teaching my course on women and disabilities, I asked the Stanford Disabilities Resource Center for a recommendation of their best reader, whom I contacted. Two months ago, I called her to check on whether she was still willing to record the book. 'Definitely,' she said, and then added, 'You know, since I talked to you last year, I have become legally blind myself.'"

"I was startled," says Krieger. "I didn't quite know what do to. How could she record my book if she couldn't see? But as if reading my thoughts, she said to me, 'I have a closed circuit TV. It enlarges the book for me. I can do it just fine.'" Krieger felt touched. "This is a case of the blind reading the blind, for the blind. It couldn't be more perfect. And each of us has a different kind of sight."

The Author's Personal Journey

Krieger has increasingly been losing her eyesight since she began to write Things No Longer There. She has gone from reading 12 point type to requiring 42 point bold type, a font so large that reading text directly on the computer screen is awkward and a screen reader is a more feasible option. "It is certainly a process that emphasizes learning," she says. In Things No Longer There, she describes her initial experiences when learning to walk with a white cane. She now walks with a guide dog named Teela, a golden retriever-labrador retriever cross. They will be visiting various universities beginning next fall when Krieger speaks about her book.

Author Appearances

Susan Krieger discussed print accessibility in a public talk at the Stanford Bookstore and at the Modern Times Bookstore in San Francisco in May of 2005, and will discuss this issue in upcoming radio programs and guest lectures.


An accessible e-book for the blind was released by the University of Wisconsin Press simultaneous with print publication in May 2005.
  • The digital version of Things No Longer There is now available on request for blind readers from the University of Wisconsin Press and comes complete with accessibility instructions from the author.
  • For an accessible e-book or audio book, please contact our electronic publishing manager, telephone: (608) 263-1103.

Audio book

The UW Press is pleased to announce that an audio book version of Things No Longer There is now available as well. The audio book can be obtained on CD. Especially of interest to those losing their vision will be chapters 8, 9 and 10, which contain the author's stories of her own loss of sight. The book is read by a longtime reader of books for the blind who is now herself legally blind:

From Track 2: Betty Risser's "Reader's Note":
"My name is Betty Risser and I am very honored that I can record this wonderful book. For thirty-five years, I have recorded textbooks for blind, dyslexic, and learning impaired college students. As I became legally blind recently, I am fortunate that I can continue to read, and this book is read by use of my closed-circuit TV."

Author Susan Krieger has recorded an introduction on the audiobook as well—Track 1. Both Krieger and Risser are available for radio program speaking engagements, where they may discuss the creation and use of alternative reading formats for the blind.

For further information about the e-book and audio book, listen to an interview with the author on Tech Nation radio.


Excerpt from Chapter 1, "Things No Longer There"

"I tend to give exact directions. A friend, noticing this once, told me about how her father gave directions: "You turn left at the corner where the big tree used to be in front of that house they tore down last year, then right in a few blocks where the pharmacy was, near the stoplight. The image of trees and buildings no longer standing in the midwestern town where my friend grew up, but that were still very present in her father's mind, has stayed with me for a long time, those absent features of the landscape more visible to me than many places I have seen. Perhaps that is because the missing elements were the only ones my friend told me about and because they had a compelling hold on her father's imagination, but more likely because I, too, am drawn to places no longer there, to imagined scenes, wished for experiences, to sad, sad feelings of longing for things past that never really occurred exactly as I have remembered them."

Excerpt from Chapter 8, "Losing My Vision"

"I am losing my eyesight. I am not sure if my vision loss will continue for a few years more or indefinitely. Already my visual world has changed....The blue irises I now look at in the spring on the hills that slope toward the ocean are blurred; I have to take out my binoculars to see them. I have to take out my binoculars at the beach to see the waves and to see any detail in the white foamy breakers. The large forms and colors of sand dunes and green meadows surround me as I walk on a path toward the beach. I sit in a crevice among the dunes surrounded by scattered clumps of low-lying white flowers, a garden of beauties I can barely see. I am going to have to grow accustomed to this new world I am in—if indeed it keeps being mine—and to find and delight in my place in it."

Author's bio

Susan Krieger
, a sociologist and writer, teaches in the Program in Feminist Studies at Stanford University. Her previous books include The Family Silver: Essays on Relationships among Women; Social Science and the Self: Personal Essays on an Art Form; and The Mirror Dance: Identity in a Women's Community.


"Even before Krieger began losing her vision to a rare condition known as birdshot retinochoroidopathy, she had become fascinated by the idea that nothing remains as we recall it. When revisiting places long remembered, everyone, she says, sees that those places look vastly different. Trees have grown, burned, or been cut down. People are older. Structures have been built, remodeled, or demolished. Birds that once flocked to a place have flown to new, more hospitable locales. She began compiling written snapshots, word pictures that captured exactly how things appeared to her at selected moments in time. Her verbal imagery borders on the poetic as she recollects, among other things, her childhood summer camp, saving a neighborhood tree, and witnessing the aftermath of a forest fire. That she is lesbian is more than an overriding leitmotif in her reminiscences, which incorporate a novella-length memoir about a special relationship. Her sexual identity becomes a presence, as fleshed-out as those other presences, the national park, the Pacific seashore, and the New Mexico desert." —Donna Chavez, Booklist

"The 11 tales that make up her current memoir—which concludes with an intimate novella about a relationship from the late 1970s —navigate exterior landscapes as well as interior heartscapes.

"Sometimes, as with the summer camp story, physical changes to the land have taken place. Other times, it's Krieger's own perceptions that have changed—as when the avid walker she once was goes from being able to discern the trim on a Victorian [house] to not being able to spot dirt on the sidewalk. She also covers the way her dimming vision plays tricks on her—as when, for example, she taps her foot against what looks like a flat sidewalk and finds out it's actually a curb."

"Then with a twist of the kaleidoscope, Krieger turns the focus on her self, sharing her fears of being invisible to others because of her physical condition, and also because of her lesbianism." —Suzanne Herel, The Noe Valley Voice (San Francisco)

"Krieger's ability to hold inner vision serves her well as her visual acuity diminishes. . . . But much more important, and essential to us all, is her ability to cultivate new vision, whether that's learning to read the different kinds of space beside and between buildings while learning to see her way with a cane, finding other lesbians in different locales, or looking back at the past with new eyes in the book's concluding novella.... [Krieger] is one of our most insightful chroniclers of lesbian experience in the late 20th and early 21st centuries." —Carol Seajay, Books to Watch Out For

For feature coverage, please see the Stanford Magazine, "Losing Sight and Finding Vision: A Memoir about Going Blind and More."

For more information in addition to this press kit contact our publicity manager, Chris Caldwell, phone: (608) 263-0734, email:

To return to the web page for Things No Longer There, click here.

Cover image:

cover shows a photo of the sunrise, with birds flying in front of a brightening sky, behind this photo is a larger version of the sunrise photo, not as brightly colored, but  still a sunrise with birds flying.

This cover image can be downloaded and used in any web-based publicity for this book. For a 300 dpi version, click here.
For a pdf version, contact

Author's photo

This is a photo of the author, Susan Krieger, it is suitable for use in any web-based publicity. If you click the copy below, you can go to a larger version. The photo itself shows the author, in a blue, aqua and purple patterned sweater, against a leafy background. In the larger verison two red flowers are shown.

This image can be downloaded and used in any web-based publicity for this book. For a 300 dpi version, click here.

Please direct any inquiries for further publicity materials to our publicity manager, phone: (608) 263-0734, email:

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